Free Political Prisoners, Human Rights, Solidarity with Refugees

ICRIR: Profiles of the Iranian Asylum-Seekers on Hunger Strike in Limassol, Cyprus

Cyprus: Foreigner in a Detention Center, June 2010. Photo credit: O. Clochard et O. Pissoat

[FARSI] A group of Iranian asylum-seekers who are illegally detained in Limassol, Cyprus, have gone on hunger strike to demand the return of a refugee’s child who has been illegally given to another family; the release from detention of all asylum-seekers who are being held for no other reason than in relation to an expired passport or visa; and the review and correction of their asylum-seekers’ files with the assistance of a competent translator other than the one believed by the asylum-seekers to be collaborating with the Islamic Republic.

These are their profiles, showing that they are victims of arbitrary and illegal detention by the government of Cyprus. None of them has had their rights as refugees upheld, and both UNHCR and the government of Cyprus should be held responsible.

Those on hunger strike in Limassol are:

Mohammad Khoshsorur, RCE 0547295: In January 2006, I applied for refugee status. On December 17, 2010, I was caught by the police. I have been in police custody for 5 months. I hadn’t had an interview for 5 years; recently I was interviewed, but did not receive an answer. My file is still open, but nevertheless I am being detained.

Nima Homayouni, RAC 5440113. I arrived in Cyprus in 2002. I was interviewed once. I did not receive any answer, but my file has been closed. I have been in custody now for 7 months. I am married with 2 kids, one who was born here, and the other who is going to school here.

Rohola Hajipour, F0200716. I came to Cyprus illegally in 2010 to apply for asylum, but after 1 month, the police arrested me and put me in jail for one month. After I finished my jail term, they put me in custody. Three days later, I applied for asylum. It has been 8 months now that I am in custody. I did my interview many days ago, and until now there is no answer. My file is open, but I am still in custody.

Mojtaba Khosravan. I came to Cyprus in 2003 and applied for asylum. I did my interview the next day. I did not receive any answer about my case. Then suddenly in 2010 they arrested me, said my case has been closed, and put me in custody.

We ask all concerned people worldwide to write urgently in support of their demands. Email addresses and a sample letter appear below the demands of the asylum-seekers.

Statement and Demands of Detained Iranian Asylum-Seekers in Cyprus

Asylum seekers are not criminals. We are not criminals, and we do not accept being treated as criminals.

Our protest against our detention has nothing to do with the staff’s inhumane treatment of us, the poor condition of the detention facilities, or the poor quality of food, although we believe these all to be unacceptable and subject to international investigation to determine whether in fact the government of Cyprus is in compliance with basic standards set out in European Union and international conventions and agreements regarding human and refugee rights. However, at this time, we, the undersigned, make the following demands:

1- We demand the immediate release of Mr. Hossein Hossein-nejad Seresty (arc : 5506241) and his wife Mrs. Roghayeh Hossein Nezadeh (arc : 5506240) and their immediate unification with their 3-year-old child.

2- We demand the immediate release of all asylum seekers who have been detained on no other grounds than not having a visa or a valid passport.

3- We demand review of our asylum applications, corrections made to our files with the help of a reliable interpreter other than Mr. Khalaj, and new rulings on our cases based on our corrected documents.

Addresses and sample letter in support of the demands of the Iranian asylum-seekers in Limassol, Cyprus:

Addresses: Please send this sample letter to the inspector general at the UNHCR, the Cypriot police, and several offices within the International Committee of the Red Cross, including their refugee unit at the following addresses:
inspector@unhcr.org, police@police.gov.cy, informatics@redcross.gr, swd@redcross.gr, ir@redcross.gr

Sample letter:
To the Inspector General at UNHCR:

I am writing to you with deep concern about the conditions facing Iranian refugees in Cyprus. Two parents, Mr. Hossein Hossein-nejad Seresty (arc : 5506241) and his wife Mrs. Roghayeh Hossein Nezadeh (arc : 5506240), have been illegally detained and their 3-year-old child has been given to another family; that is an outrage beyond words and I demand immediate investigation. Further, the refugees report that their asylum cases have been rejected due to the bad practices of a corrupt translator. As a result, many of them have been left in a situation where their passport and/or visa have expired, yet they fear for their security if their are returned to Iran and the known persecution awaiting them there, as explicitly promised by the Islamic Republic.

I demand that you urgently investigate the practice and conditions of detention facing Iranian refugees in Cyprus. Refugees have a right under international law to asylum and protection, and they have the right not to be returned against their will to a place where they fear for their safety and security. These fundamental rights of refugees must be respected and upheld.

Sincerely,
[your name]

Members of the ICRIR include Action for Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East, International Federation for Iranian Refugees, Iranian Refugees Action Network, Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.

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